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Ziel Treblinka / "Final Destination Treblinka" 

By Stephen Potyondi 

As part of the greater Nazi effort to exterminate the Jews of Europe, the Treblinka 
concentration camp was second only the the more famous Auschwitz-Birkenau in terms 
of deadliness. With thousands of cattle cars stocked to the gills with Polish Jews 
converging on it day after day for months on end, its facilities orchestrated the 
annihilation of at least 800,000 of them, and quite likely more. All this we know from 
what remains of eyewitness testimony and physical evidence despite Nazi efforts to 
destroy both, and most especially train schedules whose 'final destination' declarations 
take on a macabre connotation with the understanding of what really occurred at the end 
of the line. 

Before continuing, it must be noted that this paper is not intended to be an exhaustive 
exegesis of Treblinka. I have written it to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that 
Treblinka was an extermination camp devoted to the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of 
thousands of Jews within the framework of the Final Solution. Any shortcomings of 
detail, therefore, must needs be remedied by reference to other treatises. 

Massive and systematic executions at the Treblinka camp fell under the aegis of Aktion 
Reinhard (alternatively Einsatz Reinhard and Aktion Reinhardt), a facet of the "Final 
Solution of the Jewish Question" (Endlosung der Judenfrage) devoted to physically 
exterminating the Jews of the Generalgouvernement of former Poland. A brief treatment 
is therefore in order. Its principal organiser and commander was Odilo Globocnik, a 
ranking member of the Schutzstaffel from 1 September 1934 onward and a recurring 
name in this history. 

On 9 November 1939, Heinrich Himmler, both overseer of the newly annexed Polish 
territories and director of the Final Solution, appointed Globocnik to the position of SS 
and police chief for the Lublin district (SS- und Polizeifuhrer fiir den Distrikt Lublin). 
Globocnik demonstrated very early that he was a fervent supporter of Himmler's 
"General plan for the East" (Generalplan Osi) to resettle the Lublin area with 
volksdeutsche [ethnic German] immigrants and to extirpate its Jews to that end. So much 
so that on 17 July 1941, he was appointed as Plenipotentiary for the Construction of SS 
and Police Strongpoints in the new Eastern Area {Der Beauftragte des Reichsfuhrers-SS 
fiir die Errichtung der SS- und Polizeistutzpunkte im neuen Ostraum). His zeal is attested 
to by his contemporaries, including Jakob Sporrenberg, Globocnik's successor as Lublin 
SSPF after the former's departure for Trieste in 1943, among others.- Rudolf H66, 
kommandant of Auschwitz, wrote in his Krakow jail cell that Globocnik had concocted: 

fantastic plans of bases stretching all the way to the Urals .... He didn't see 
any difficulties here and rejected all criticism with a superior sweep of the 

hand. Insofar as he did not need them for labour at "his" bases, he wanted 
to liquidate the Jews in these areas on the spot." 

At the same time, Himmler appointed Hauptsturmfiihrer Hans Hofle as Globocnik's 
Chief of Operations in charge of organisation and manpower, an essential player in the 
upcoming Aktion Reinhard(t) programme." Globocnik was also given a staff of a few 
hundred men to aid him in his work, many of whom came from the T4 euthanasia 
programme at the behest of Dr. Viktor Brack, Oberfuhrer in the SS. 

In 1941, 1 received an oral order to discontinue the euthanasia programme. 
I received this order either from Bouhler or from Dr (Karl) Brandt 
[Himmler's adjutant]. In order to reserve the personnel relieved of these 
duties and to have the opportunity of starting a new euthanasia programme 
after the war, Bouhler requested, I think after a conference with Himmler, 
that I send these personnel to Lublin and put them at the disposal of SS- 
Brigadefiihrer Globocnik. I then had the impression that these people were 
to be used in the extensive Jewish labour camps run by Globocnik[sic]. 
Later, however, at the end of 1942 or the beginning of 1943, 1 found out 
that they were used to assist in the mass extermination of the Jews, which 
was by then already common knowledge in the higher Party circles. - 

Although most of these men were discharged from their T4 positions on 24 August 1941, 
they were hastily summoned back by an emergency recall two weeks later to serve 
Globocnik's purposes.- Among them was Christian Wirth, heretofore inspector of the T4 
programme, who, in turn, became inspector of the Aktion Reinhard(t) operation in 
August 1942. Future Lager- Kommandants Franz Stangl and Kurt Franz were also among 
the conscripted. Himmler's designation of men familiar with the methods and 
technologies of gas chamber execution- for a mass killing operation can hardly have been 
coincidental and was intended to facilitate the Aktion by staffing it with experienced 

It was at some point very soon after this, in either the late summer or autumn of 1941 that 
the order to begin Aktion Reinhard(t) was received. No official document containing 
such an order has ever been recovered; however, its inception may be inferred 
circumstantially. H6B writes in his memoirs that in the summer of 1941 he personally 
received an order from Himmler to "prepare a site for mass extermination"- because 
"[t]he existing extermination camps in the East are not in a position to carry out the large 
Aktionen which are anticipated. I have therefore earmarked Auschwitz for this purpose.-" 
Although either the wording or the date of this statement isn't accurate as there were no 
extermination camps in 1941, it is unimaginable that Globocnik was not likewise 
informed of the decision regarding the Aktionen being prepared for. Furthermore, during 
his trial, SS-Obersturmbannfiihrer Karl Adolf Eichmann, head of the department for 
Jewish Affairs in the Gestapo from 1941 to 1945, submitted that Reinhard Heydrich, 
head of the Reich Central Security Office, or RSHA {Reichssicherheitshauptamt) in 
charge of "carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question"- informed him 
two or three months prior to Operation Barbarossa (22 June 1941) that Hitler had ordered 

the physical annihilation of the Jews.— Later, Heydrich told Eichmann "to drive to 
Globocnik. The Reichsfiihrer has already given him corresponding orders. Look, see how 
far he has gone with this project." 11 Belzec, earliest of the Aktion Reinhard(t) death 
camps, was in experimental operation by November or December of 1941 and the first 
use of gassing vans is attested to from 8 December.— The order, therefore, must have 
appeared sometime before this. A diary entry by Reich Propaganda Minister Josef 
Goebbels on 27 March 1942 illustrates all the implications of the Aktion. 

Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government are now 
being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not 
to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. 
On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be 
liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor. 

The former Gauleiter of Vienna, who is to carry this measure through, is 
doing it with considerable circumspection and according to a method that 
does not attract too much attention. A judgment is being visited upon the 
Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved by them. The prophesy which 
the Fiihrer made about them for having brought on a new world war is 
beginning to come true in a most terrible manner. One must not be 
sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jews, they would 
destroy us. It's a life-and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the 
Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime would have the 
strength for such a global solution of this question. Here, too, the Fiihrer is 
the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions 
and therefore inexorable. Fortunately a whole series of possibilities 
presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We 
shall have to profit by this. 

[Hitler in a Reichstag speech on January 30, 1939, prophesied that the 
outbreak of another world war would mean the end of the Jews in Europe. 
He then said: "I want today once again to make a prophecy: In case the 
international Jewish financiers within and outside Europe succeed once 
more in hurling the peoples into a world war, the result will be, not the 
Bolshevization of the world and with it a victory of Jewry, but the 
annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."] 

The ghettoes that will be emptied in the cities of the General Government 
now will be refilled with Jews thrown out of the Reich. This process is to 
be repeated from time to time. There is nothing funny in it for the Jews, 
and the fact that Jewry's representatives in England and America are today 
organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for 
dearly by its representatives in Europe - and that's only right.— 

The former Gauleiter of Vienna whom Goebbels mentions as being the head of the 
operation is no other than Odilo Globocnik, the man whom Himmler put in charge of 

Aktion Reinhard(t) - Globocnik had been Gauleiter of Vienna until 1939. Deportations to 
Belzec extermination camp had begun on 17 March 1942, ten days before this entry was 

To move forward to the Treblinka death camp. There were two and a half million Jews in 
Poland at the end of 1941,— far more than could have been killed using the firing squad 
tactics of the Einsatzgruppen— or recently experimented-with gas vans—. As Governor 
Hans Frank stated in a remark to a session of the GG government on 16 December 1941, 
"We cannot shoot these 3.5 million [sic] Jews, we cannot poison them. Yet we'll be able 
to take measures to destroy them that will somehow result in success."— The answer was 
found in stationary execution camps designed to kill en masse using gas chambers. Dieter 
Wisliceny, Hauptsturmfuhrer-SS and subordinate of Adolf Eichmann from 1940 to 1944 
"as expert for AMT IV A 4 in Slovakia dealing solely with the Jewish question,"— 
elucidated in 1946: "According to Eichmann's own statements to me, Globocnik was the 
first to employ gas chambers for mass extermination." — 

Among these first employments was Treblinka-II , a concentration camp built between 
May and July of 1942 in the north-eastern part of the Generalgouvernement, in a remote 
and sequestered location ten kilometres from Malkinia Gorna, a railway junction on the 


main Warsaw-Bialystok line.— Of all the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps, Treblinka was the 
most streamlined and sophisticated as it drew on experience gleaned from the operation 
of its predecessors. 

In apprehension of Treblinka's completion, Victor Brack - who had supplied the T4 
labour for the earlier Aktion Reinhard(t) projects, including Belzec and Chelmno - wrote 
to Himmler regarding additional personnel being prepared for accelerated operations due 
to to begin in late July on account of the anticipated purging of the Warsaw ghetto. 

Viktor Brack 

SS-Oberfuhrer Berlin, IV 8, Voss-Strasse 4, 23 June 1942 

[Initial] HH Top Secret To the Reich Leader SS and 

Chief of the German Police 

Heinrich Himmler, 

Berlin SW 11, Prinz Albrecht Str. 8 

Dear Reich Leader, 

On the instructions of Reich Leader [Reichsleiter] Bouhler I placed some 
of my men - already some time ago - at the disposal of Brigadefiihrer 
Globocnik to execute his special mission. On his renewed request I have 
now transferred additional personnel. On this occasion Brigadefiihrer 
Globocnik stated his opinion that the whole Jewish action should be 
completed as quickly as possible so that one would not get caught in the 
middle of it one day if some difficulties should make a stoppage of the 
action necessary. You, yourself, Reich Leader, have already expressed 
your view, that work should progress quickly for reasons of camouflage 

alone. Both points which in principle arrive at the same result are more 
than justified as far as my own experience goes; 

Among 10 millions of Jews in Europe there are, I figure, at least 2-3 
millions of men and women who are fit enough to work. Considering the 
extraordinary difficulties the labour problem presents us with, I hold the 
view that those 3 millions should be specially selected and preserved. 
[..J 21 

The sum of Brack's "own experience" at the time amounted to taking charge of and 
running the T4 operations for two years, euthanizing approximately 70,000 mentally and 
physically handicapped persons with poison gas, which tells us why he considered speed 


and secrecy to be of the essence.— Just one month prior to writing this letter, Brack had 
visited Globocnik in Lublin to discuss plans for the Final Solution: 

At the beginning of May 1942 SS-Oberfiihrer Brack from the Fiihrer's 
Chancellery suddenly came to Lublin. With Globocnik, he discussed 
resuming the extermination of the Jews. Globocnik said that he had too 
few people to carry out this programme. Brack stated that the euthanasia 
programme had stopped and that the people from the T4 world from now 
on would be detailed to him on a regular basis so that the decisions taken 
at the Wannsee conference could be implemented. - 

Given his knowledge about Aktion Reinhard(t) at the time, therefore, Brack's request that 
2-3 million Jews be "preserved" from Globocnik's "special mission" for the sake of slave 
labour is a casual suggestion that only the other 7-8 million be killed in the extermination 


camps.— Finally, Treblinka was declared "ready for operation" on 1 1 July 1942 in a 
communique sent from its first commandant Dr. Irmfried Eberl to Dr. Heinz Auerswald, 
Nazi Commissioner for the Warsaw Ghetto. 

Dr. med. Irmfried Eberl 



Palais Bruhl/Head of SS and Police 

Warsaw, 07.07.1942 

To the 

Commissary for the Jewish Quarter in Warsaw 

[stamp of receipt by the Commissary for the Jewish Quarter in Warsaw, 7 
July 1942] Warsaw 
Palais Briihl 

Subject: Work Camp Treblinka 

The work camp Treblinka will be ready for operation on Saturday, 

For final completion the following objects are still needed: 

1,000 clips for the lighting lead, 9 mm; 

20 electrical supports with switch 

20 electrical supports without switch 

3 meters of conveyor[?] belt [literal translation is "drive belt"] 

1 table drill press 

3 kg of nut tree pickle 

3 kg of pickle oak bright 

1 field furnace 

We request speediest delivery. The commencement of operation is not 
affected by the supply of the above mentioned objects, as the installation 
will be made able to work on a provisional basis until Saturday. 

Heil Hitler! 

[signature of Eberl]— 

Contrary to the wording of the message, the 'work camp Treblinka,' or T-I, had been 
completed in 1941, a year earlier. The new camp, T-II, was built a short distance from the 
original.— Its dimensions were approximately 600m x 400m according to the Diisseldorf 
County Court which tried many of the perpetrators involved,^ giving it an area of 
240,000 square meters which was divided into three sections of more or less equal size: 

i) The Wohnlager or Living Camp; 

ii) The Auffanglager or Receiving Camp; 

iii) The Totenlager or Death Camp, i.e. the extermination area; 

features among others sworn to be "absolutely correct" by Lager-Kommandant Franz 


Stangl at his trial in 1970.— The exterminatio: 
'upper camp' and the rest as the 'lower camp.' 

— 9S 

Stangl at his trial in 1970.— The extermination area was generally referred to as the 

According to eyewitnesses and camp personnel, the living camp, composing the 'left' or 
northernmost portion of Treblinka contained barracks for the Totenkopf-SS guards and 
Ukrainian Trawniki who operated the facilities, along with storehouses, infirmaries, a 
kitchen, utility shops (carpenter, tailor, etc.) and the like. The receiving camp (SW 
portion) consisted of a counterfeit train station and sorting square (Transportplatz) where 
shipments of Jews were first admitted to the camp. It also contained a small area in the 
south-eastern corner called the Lazarett where invalids and Jews otherwise unable to be 
herded into the gas chambers were shot instead.^ Finally, the 'upper' death camp (SE 
quadrant) contained the gas chambers and burial pits. All these sections were hidden from 


one another by tree branches woven through barbed wire fences.— Unlike other camps, 

there were no permanent, large-scale residence facilities for Jewish arrivals; they were 
told that they were at a transit camp and were killed almost immediately after 
admittance.— Soon after the camp's inauguration, it was discovered that it had insufficient 
capacities to kill the number of Jews arriving from the Warsaw Ghetto and elsewhere 
every day. At the end of August or beginning of September, therefore, the decision was 
taken to build a new set of gas chambers just north-west of the old ones.— 

At nearly the same time as the camp's opening - a week later - each man involved was 
made to sign non-disclosure forms by Globocnik's second in command, Hofle, swearing 
them to absolute secrecy about the project even after its termination. 

July 18, 1942 

concerning the obligation of [name of person] as a person with 

special duties in the execution of tasks in the evacuation of Jews within 
the framework of "Einsatz Reinhard," [Operation Reinhard] under the SS 
Police Leader (SS- und Polizeifuhrer) in the District of Lublin. 

[Name] declares: 

I have been thoroughly informed and instructed by SS Hauptsturmfiihrer 
Hofle, as Commander of the main division of "Einsatz Reinhard" of the 
SS and Police Leader in the District of Lublin: 

1. that I may not under any circumstances pass on any form of 
information, verbally or in writing, on the progress, procedure or incidents 
in the evacuation of Jews to any person outside the circle of the "Einsatz 
Reinhard" staff; 

2. that the process of the evacuation of Jews is a subject that comes under 
"Secret Reich Document," in accordance with censorship regulation 
Verschl. V. a; 

3. concerning the special regulations made by the SS and Police Leader in 
the District of Lublin in this case, with explicit reference to the fact that 
these regulations are "Orders concerning Duties," and/or "Orders and 
Prohibitions" in accordance with Para. 92b of R.St.G.B.; 

4. that there is an absolute prohibition on photography in the camps of 
"Einsatz Reinhard"; 

5. concerning Para. 88 through 93 of R.St.G.B., of the formulation of 
April 24, 1934, and the Regulation on Bribery and Revealing of Secrets on 
the part of Persons who are not in Official Employ, of May 3, 1917, and 
February 12, 1920; 

6. concerning the paragraphs of R.St.G.B. 139 (Duty to Lay Information) 
and 353c (Breach of the Official Secrets Act). 

I am familiar with the above Regulations and Laws and am aware of the 
responsibilities imposed upon me by the task with which I have been 
entrusted. I promise to observe them to the best of my knowledge and 
conscience. I am aware that the obligation to maintain secrecy continues 
even after I have left the Service."— 

This constitutes a second official instance of activities surrounding Treblinka and Aktion 
Reinhard(t) being classified top secret, with others to come. The reasons for doing so 
could not be clearer: on 19 July 1942, the very next day, Heinrich Himmler ordered the 
completion of the Final Solution in the Generalgouvernement.— 

I herewith order that the resettlement of the entire Jewish population of the 
Government-General be carried out and completed by December 31, 1942. 

From December 31, 1942, no persons of Jewish origin may remain within 
the Government-General, unless they are in collection camps in Warsaw, 
Cracow, Czestochowa, Radom, and Lublin. All other work on which 
Jewish labor is employed must be finished by that date, or, in the event 
that this is not possible, it must be transferred to one of the collection 

These measures are required with a view to the necessary ethnic division 
of races and peoples for the New Order in Europe, and also in the interests 
of the security and cleanliness of the German Reich and its sphere of 
interest. Every breach of this regulation spells a danger to quiet and order 
in the entire German sphere of interest, a point of application for the 
resistance movement and a source of moral and physical pestilence. For all 
these reasons a total cleansing is necessary and therefore to be carried out. 
Cases in which the date set can not be observed will be reported to me in 
time, so that I can see to corrective action at an early date. All requests by 
other offices for changes or permits for exceptions to be made must be 
presented to me personally. 

Heil Hitler! 
H. Himmler 

Three days later, the "Great Resettlement Action" (Grofie Umsiedlungsaktion) of the 
Warsaw Ghetto began, under the auspices of SS- und Polizeifiihrer Warschau Ferdinand 
v. Sammern-Frankenegg, Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei und des 
Sicherheitsdienstes in Warschau, Dr Ludwig Hahn and - most significantly - now SS- 
Sturmbannfuhrer Hermann Hofle who acted as representative of Odilo Globocnik, head 
of Aktion Reinhard(t) — It entailed massive deportations of Jews from the Warsaw 
Ghetto, but not for resettlement to the Russian east. A letter sent on 28 July from State 

Secretary of the Reich Transport Ministry Ganzenmiiller to the then chief of Himmler's 
staff, SS-Obergruppenfiihrer Wolff tells us where the transports were really going. 


Dear Party Comrade Wolff! 

With reference to our phone conversation on 16.7.1942 I hereby transcribe 
the following report of our Gerneral Direction of Eastern Railways 
(Gedob) in Cracow for your information: 

"Since 22.7. a train with 5 000 Jews goes daily from Warsaw via Malkinia 
to Treblinka. Furthermore there is a train with 5 000 Jews going from 
Przemysl to Belzec twice a week. Gedob is constantly in touch with the 
security service in Cracow, who agrees that the transports from Warsaw 
via Lublin to Sobibor (near Lublin) rest as long as the conversion works 
on this line make transports impossible (until October 1942)" The trains 
are agreed with the commander of the Security Police in the General 
Government. The Head of SS and Police for the Lublin district, SS- 
Brigadeflihrer Globocnik, has been informed. 

Heil Hitler! 

Your truly 

signed Ganzenmiiller— 

This document tells us the following: 

i) People were being taken to Treblinka at a rate of 5,000 per day beginning 22 July 1942; 

ii) Treblinka was the final destination of these transports 

A glimpse of their fates can be gleaned from a posterior document, the Stroop Report of 
1943. It is relevant insofar as its references to "T-II" (Treblinka death camp) tell us that 
Jews were sent there to be "destroyed," i.e. killed. 

24 May 1943 

Of the overall total of 56,065 captured Jews, about 7,000 have been 
destroyed in the course of the large-scale action in the former Jewish 
living quarter. 6,929 Jews were destroyed by transport to T. II, so that 
overall, 13,929 Jews were destroyed. It is estimated that, in addition to the 
number of 56,065, 5 - 6,000 Jews were destroyed by explosions and fire.— 

By the end of a two and a half month-long period, Stroop placed the number of Jews sent 
to Treblinka for extermination at over 3 10,000. 

It soon became clear that not all dangers had been banished by confining 
the Jews to one district. Security considerations necessitated that Jews be 
completely removed from the city of Warsaw. The first large removal 
occurred during the period from 22 July to 3 October 1942, when 310,322 
Jews were removed. In January 1943, another resettlement operation was 


carried out, which encompassed a total of 6,500 Jews.— 

District governor Dr. Ludwig Fischer reported that 400,000 Jews had been deported from 
the city and its environs during the same period of time.— This was not all, however, as 
contemporary train records indicate that additional shipments of Jews from Lublin, 
Radom and Bialystok carrying nearly 900,000 individuals (total, including Warsaw 
deportations) were being sent to Treblinka as well, until they ended on 19 August 1943 
(coinciding with the uprising).— These shipment records also usefully demonstrate that 
Treblinka was not a transit camp for 'resettlement to the east' as the language of Nazi 
correspondence implied, since Jews were, beginning 19 August, actively being sent from 
the east (backwards, from Bialystok!) westward there to die on the very railway which 
was supposedly being used to 'evacuate' them to the Soviet Union. Moreover, the 
Oberfeldkommandant of the Lwow ghetto made it clear in spring of 1942 that Jews were 
being transported westward from Galicia to the Lublin district and not the other way 

Within the Jewish population of Lemberg a noticeable unrest has spread in 
regard to a deportation action that has begun, through which some 30,000 
elderly and other unemployed Jews shall be seized and allegedly 
transferred to a territory near Lublin. To what extent this evacuation can 
be equated with a decimation remains to be seen. 

Their fate was also made abundantly clear by the same: 

The resettlement actions continue undiminished. The Jews are informed of 
their fate. Indicative is the statement of a member of the Lwow Jewish 
council: We all carry our death certificates in our pocket— only the date of 
death is not yet filled out.— 

The Jews could hardly have been unaware of what awaited them. In spite of their 
precautions, these murder operations were not always as discreet as the Nazi high 
command would have liked. According to one of the weekly reports of the Lwow 
propaganda division 

The resettlement of the Jews (which partly assumes forms not worthy of a 
cultured people) directly provokes comparison of the methods of the 
Gestapo with those of the GPU. The railway wagons are said to be in such 
a bad state that it is impossible to prevent Jews from breaking out. The 
result is that at wayside stations there occur wild shootings and regular 
man-hunts. It is also reported that corpses of shot Jews lie on the streets 
for days. Although the Reich Germans, as well as the foreign population, 

are convinced of the necessity of liquidating all Jews, it would still be 
more appropriate to carry this out in a manner that causes less sensation 
and offence.— 

To dispel any lingering doubts, a work report from German Military Police operating in 
Bulgaria unequivocally puts paid to the lie of resettlement by unambiguously naming 
Treblinka as the final destination of Jewish transports. That geriatrics and infants 
numbered among them also makes it impossible that they were sent there for labour 

Work Report 

12 April 1943 

Subject: Escorting the Jewish Transports 

On the basis of a telephoned command from SS Haupsturmfiihrer Danker, 
the train left Skopje on March 23, 1943, at 12:00, escorted by platoon No. 
1, which comprised thirty men and was commanded by Police Sergeant 
Buchner. The train arrived at 23:00. On March 29, at 06:00, the loading of 
2,404 Jews onto freight cars commenced at the former tobacco sheds. 
Loading was completed at 12:00, and at 12:30 the train departed. The train 
passed through Albanian territory. The final destination, Treblinka (the 
camp), was reached on April 5, 1943, at 07:00, via Czestochowa, 
Piotrkow, Warsaw. The train was unloaded that same day between the 
hours 09:00 and 1 1:00. Incidents: Five Jews died en route. On the night of 
March 31 - an elderly man, aged eighty-five; on April 3 - an elderly 
woman, aged ninety-four and a six-month-old child. On April 4 an elderly 
woman aged ninety-nine died. 

Transport Roster: received 2,404 

less 5 

total delivered at Treblinka 


[signed] Karl, Military Police Lieutenant and Company Commander.— 

An ancillary document intercepted by the British decoding service at Bletchley Park, the 
so-called Hofle memorandum , corroborates the increased death tolls. 

13/15. OLQ de OMQ 1005 83 234 250 

State Secret! 

To the Senior Commander of the Security Police [and the Security 
Service], for the attention of SS Obersturmbannfuhrer HEEVI, CRACOW. 

Subject: fortnightly report Einsatz REINHART. 

Reference: radio telegram therefrom. 

recorded arrivals until December 31, 42, 

L [Lublin] 12,761, 

B [Belzec] 0, 

S [Sobibor] 515, 

T [Treblinka] 10 335 [,] 

together 23 611 

sum total... [as per] December 31, 42, 

L 24 733, 

B 434 508, 

S 101 370, 

T71 355, read: 713 555] 

together 1 274 166 

SS and Police Leader Lublin, HOFLE, Sturmbannfiihrer^ 

This document tells us that 713,555 Jews from the Polish General Government arrived at 
"T" (Treblinka) until 31 December 1942, Himmler's deadline for the "total cleansing" of 
the Generalgouvernement. It also tells us where one of the key figures in the report of 
Himmler's statistician Richard Korherr came from. The Korherr report, prepared at 
Himmler's request, were actually two, a "long" one for Himmler and a "short" one for 
Hitler himself, meant to give a comprehensive account of the Holocaust to its directors.— 
A translation yields the following passage: 

"4. Transportation of Jews from the 
eastern provinces to the Russian 
East: 1 449 692" 

The following numbers were sifted 
through the camps in the General 
government 1 274 166 Jews 

through the camps in the Warthegau 145 301 Jews"— 

The "camps in the Warthegau" was Chelmno and the "camps in the General Government" 
were the aforementioned Aktion Reinhard(t) camps Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka and 
the Lublin-Majdanek camp, the latter obviously because it was considered more practical 
to send Jews from Lublin to Majdanek as soon as that camp had extermination facilities 
instead of sending them to far-away Belzec or Sobibor. The figure of 1,274,166 Jews 
mentioned in that report is evidently the figure from the above quoted Hofle 
memorandum, which means that Korherr's figure is broken down as follows: 

1. Lublin-Majdanek 24,733 

2. Belzec 434,508 

3. Sobibor 101,370 

4. Treblinka 713,555 

Total 1,274,166 

On 9 April 1943, Himmler wrote to the heads of the Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst that 
he found Korherr's report "excellent for camouflage purposes," and forbade its 


dissemination.— In the original version of the report, Korherr used the term 
Sonderbehandlung, i.e. "special treatment", with regard to the Jews mentioned in this 
section of his report. This term, which was a bureaucratic euphemism for killing 
commonly used in the context of the Final Solution,— must have become too worn and 
thus transparent by the time Korherr submitted his report to Himmler, for which reason 
Himmler's adjutant Karl Brandt, in a letter dated 10 April 1943 required Korherr to 
refrain from using the term Sonderbehandlung and to phrase the quoted paragraph as it 
was finally worded. 

The Reichsfiihrer SS 

S[outh] Field Command Post 10.4.1943 

Tgb. Nr. [stamped: state secret] 


2. Draughts 
2. Draughting 

To the inspector of statistics, PG. Korherr 

The Reichsfiihrer SS has reviewed your statistical report on "the final 
solution of the Jewish question in Europe." He wishes that the term 
"special treatment of the Jews" be nowhere mentioned. Page 9, point 4, 
must read as follows: 

"Transportation of Jews from the 
eastern provinces to the Russian East: 
The following numbers were sifted 
through the camps in the General 


through the camps in the Warthegau " 

No other formulation may be used. I have sent the copy of the report 
already draughted to the Reichsfiihrer SS with the request to amend page 9 
accordingly and send it back again. 


1 brief^ 

A final document, though it gives no exact indications of numbers, is illustrative when it 
comes to giving an idea of just how many Jews were being killed. It is the remark of the 
Wehrmacht commander of Ostrow recorded in the first war diary of the General 
Quartermaster of the Military Commander in the Generalgouvernement on 24 October 

It reads: "OK Ostrow reports that the Jews in Treblinka are not sufficiently buried and 
therefore an unbearable smell of corpses befouls the air."— 

Ostrow, it is significant to point out, was 20 kilometres from Treblinka. 

More than 800,000 Jews (and likely far more as many train records are incomplete or 
lack head counts) were shipped to Treblinka in the space of a year for 'special treatment'; 
'evacuation'; 'liquidation'; 'resettlement'; murder; with only a handful ever seen again. 
Such creative language had long been used to attempt to disguise killing operations of 


Jews in the east, most notably by the Einsatzgruppen but also by the Gendarmerie.— In 
this light, a decision arrived at in Lublin on 17 October 1941 by Hans Frank and Odilo 
Globocnik among others helps us place the birth of the extermination programme, 
guessed at above. 

All Jews, with the exception of indispensable craftsmen and the like, are to 
be evacuated from Lublin. Initially, 1,000 Jews will be transferred across 
the Bug River. Responsibility for this is placed in the hands of the SSPF. 
The Stadthauptmann will select the Jews to be evacuated.— 

The term 'transferred across the Bug River' was a watchword in use from before the 
German invasion of Russia and hence anachronistic at the time (territory across the Bug 
being Soviet in 1939/40), its meaning therefore not intended literally, especially in the 
context of the Jewish extermination plans which were already being adumbrated.^ 

As SS-Sergeant and camp guard Franz Suchomel put it, "Treblinka was a primitive but 
efficient production line of death. Understand? Primitive, yes. But it worked well, that 
production line of death."— We know that Jews were being sent to their deaths, but the 
question of how remains. Much allusion has been made up to this point to use the use of 
gas chambers. Eichmann, in a paper he submitted for his defence entitled "Gotzen," wrote 
that "Globocnik had established gassing camps at Treblinka and Belzec upon instruction 
from Himmler and Kriiger."— Reference to the testimony of those present best describes 
what was occurring inside the camp all the while. 

Testimony of Treblinka's kommandant, SS-Unterscharfiihrer Franz Stangl, who replaced 
Eberl in September 1942: 

Michel [the sergeant-major of the camp] told me later that Wirth suddenly 
appeared, looked around on the gas chambers on which they were still 

working, and said: 'right, we'll try it out right now with those twenty-five 
working Jews. Get them up here'. They marched our twenty-five Jews up 
there and just pushed them in and gassed them. Michel said Wirth behaved 
like a lunatic, hitting at his own staff with his whip to drive them on... 

Testimony of SS-Unterscharfiihrer Willi Mentz, stationed at Treblinka from July 1942 to 
November 1943 and assigned by Christian Wirth to supervise the Lazarett: 

When I came to Treblinka the camp commandant was a doctor named Dr. 
Eberl. He was very ambitious. It was said that he ordered more transports 
than could be "processed" in the camp. That meant that trains had to wait 
outside the camp because the occupants of the previous transport had not 
yet all been killed. At the time it was very hot and as a result of the long 
wait inside the transport trains in the intense heat many people died. At the 
time whole mountains of bodies lay on the platform. The 
Hauptsturmfiihrer Christian Wirth came to Treblinka and kicked up a 
terrific row. And then one day Dr. Eberl was no longer there... 

For about two months I worked in the upper section of the camp and then 
after Eberl had gone everything in the camp was reorganized. The two 
parts of the camp were separated by barbed wire fences. Pine branches 
were used so that you could not see through the fences. The same thing 
was done along the route from the "transfer" area to the gas chambers... 

Finally, new and larger gas chambers were built. I think that there were 
now five or six larger gas chambers. I cannot say exactly how many 
people these large gas chambers held. If the small gas chambers could 
hold 80-100 people, the large ones could probably hold twice that 

Following the arrival of a transport, six to eight cars would be shunted into 
the camp, coming to a halt at the platform there. The commandant, his 
deputy Franz, Kuettner and Stadie or Maetzig would be here waiting as 
the transport came in. Further SS members were also present to supervise 
the unloading: for example, Genz and Belitz had to make absolutely sure 
that there was no one left in the car after the occupants had been ordered 
to get out. 

When the Jews had got off, Stadie or Maetzig would have a short word 
with them. They were told something to the effect that they were a 
resettlement transport, that they would be given a bath and that they would 
receive new clothes. They were also instructed to maintain quiet and 
discipline. They would continue their journey the following day. 

Then the transports were taken off to the so-called "transfer" area. The 
women had to undress in huts and the men out in the open. The women 

were than led through a passageway, known as the "tube", to the gas 
chambers. On the way they had to pass a hut where they had to hand in 


their jewellery and valuables..— 

Testimony of SS Oberscharfiihrer Heinrich Matthes, chief officer commanding T-II and 
of the gas chambers: 

During the entire time I was in Treblinka, I served in the upper camp. The 
upper camp was that part of Treblinka with the gas chambers, where the 
Jews were killed and their corpses laid in large pits and later burned. 

About fourteen Germans carried out services in the upper camp. There 
were two Ukrainians permanently in the upper camp. One of them was 
called Nikolai, the other was a short man, I don't remember his name... 
These two Ukrainians who lived in the upper camp served in the gas 
chambers. They also took care of the engine room when Fritz Schmidt was 
absent. Usually this Schmidt was in charge of the engine room. In my 
opinion, as a civilian he was either a mechanic or a driver... 

All together, six gas chambers were active. According to my estimate, 
about 300 people could enter each gas chamber. The people went into the 
gas chamber without resistance. Those who were at the end, the Ukrainian 
guards had to push inside. I personally saw how the Ukrainians pushed the 
people with their rifle butts... 

The gas chambers were closed for about thirty minutes. Then Schmidt 
stopped the gassing, and the two Ukrainians who were in the engine room 
opened the gas chambers from the other side.— 

The testimony of Auschwitz camp Kommandant Rudolf H6B on 1 April 1946 in 
Nuremberg is also instructive: 

Q Didn't you visit any of the three existing extermination camps? 

A Yes. 

Q Which ones? 

A Treblinka ... 

Q What did you see there? 

A At that time the action in connection with the Warsaw Ghetto was in 
progress, and I watched the procedure. 

Q How was it done there? 

A They had chambers for about 200 people. Into these chambers the 
fumes from an exhaust machine came in. These motors had been taken 
from captured enemy equipment such as tanks, trucks and had been 
installed next to the gas chambers. They were run by gas, and those 
victims were supposed to be suffocated by the fumes. 

Q How many chambers were there, and how many people were killed? 

A I do not know the exact figure, but there may have been about ten 
chambers. It was built next to a ramp and the train drove right up to it. The 
people were unloaded right into the chambers, and this procedure was 
necessary because the motors did not always work right. 

Q Weren't the people first registered or interrogated? 

A No. 

Q They were put directly into the chambers from the trains? 

A Yes. 

Q And what happened to their clothing? 

A They had to undress before they were put into the chambers. 

Q And their valuables? 

A That was all sorted. I saw a number of shacks there in which there were 
piles of clothing, shoes, valuables, etc., all sorted separately and neatly 
stacked. They were later packed. 

Q What happened to these things? 

A I do not know. 

Q Who did the sorting? 

A Inmates. 

Q Who guarded the trains in which the Jews were to be gassed alive? 

A The train that I saw In Treblinka arrived guarded by members of the 
Security Police; also the trains that came into Auschwitz from Poland 
were guarded by the Security Police. 

Q Did the train loads consist of women, men and children all together? 

A All together. 

Q We are now talking about the train in Treblinka? 

A Yes, the one in Treblinka. 

Q Were there babies, real small children and very old people also? 

A All kinds, if they were evacuated from Warsaw. 

Q Now I understand from your statement that the people - men, women 
and children had to strip themselves completely naked. Am I right? 

A Yes. 

Q And the women carried their babies with them into the chambers? 

A Yes. 

Q And they know what was going to happen to them? 

A Yes, I assume so. 

Q Did they knew what was going to happen to them? 

A Yes, they did. 

Q And what was your reaction? 

A I did not consider this problem, or the means, or the manner in which it 
was conducted because in my opinion they knew it was going to happen to 

Q But you found it lawful and right that they were to be exterminated. It 
was only the manner you objected to? 

A Yes, according to my discussions with Himmler it was the way you just 

Q Did anyone try to escape? 

A No, I didn't see that. 

Q How long did you remain in Treblinka? 

A About three or four hours.— 

H66 confirms the capacity estimates of the new gas chambers built in the middle of 1942 
made by Willi Mentz as being 200. Given six chambers (there were possibly ten, 
according to some witnesses), 1,200 people could have been gassed at a time. Assuming, 
therefore, Matthes' estimate of thirty minutes for each operation, to execute a trainload of 
5000 would have taken just over two hours, certainly a little longer when removal of the 
bodies and cleaning up are considered, but nothing that would take anything approaching 
a whole day. 800,000 Jews could have easily been killed in 160 days at this rate (the date 
for the statistic of 713,555 listed in the Hofle memorandum is 31 December, 163 days 
from the commencement of arrivals), leaving enough time to gas a further 1,235,000 
before arrivals slowed drastically in August of 1943, should they have been shipped 
there. Other estimates place the capacity of the chambers at 300 each and the duration of 
the gassing at 15 minutes, which would increase the efficiency of the killing operation 
even more.— Obviously, the killing capacity of Treblinka is beyond questioning. Even if 
the demands on the Treblinka staff and their facilities had been more than doubled, the 
trains would have continued running on time. 

A significant portion of witness testimony about the murders converges on the point of 
collection of Jewish valuables both before and after gassing. Unlike other extermination 
centres, Aktion Reinhard(t) camps did not report to Heydrich's RSHA but rather to the 
Economics and Administration Office or WVHA (Wirtschafts und 
Verwaltungshauptamt). On 15 June 1941, in anticipation of the imminent Operation 
Barbarossa, the "Niirnberger Gesetze" (Racial Laws) became valid in the eastern 
occupied territories, article two of which stated: 

Article 2 

1. The property of a Jew shall be confiscated by the Reich after his death. 

2. The Reich may, however, grant compensation to the non-Jewish legal 
heirs and persons entitled to sustenance who have their domicile in 

3. This compensation may be granted in the form of a lump sum, not to 
exceed the ceiling price of the property which has passed into possession 
[Verfiigungsgewalt] of the German Reich. 

4. Compensation may be granted by the transfer of titles and assets from 
the confiscated property. No costs shall be imposed for the legal processes 
necessary for such transfer.— 

As millions of Jews were being killed, the WVHA took an interest in such affairs with 
regard to their economic aspect, that being 'confiscation of property' from murdered 
persons. An undated report by Odilo Globocnik conveying the value and volume of 
valuables accrued during these seizures gives an idea of their extent. 


Personal Staff Reich Leader SS 

Files Administration 

File No. Secret 115 

[initialed by Himmler] 

Valuables Turned In from the "Operation Reinhardt" 

Valuables from the "Operation Reinhardt" have been handed in at the SS 
WVHA Berlin for transmission to the Reich Bank or to the Reich Ministry 
of Economy as follows: 

a. RM, total value - RM 53,013,133.51 

b. Foreign currency, in notes, from all main countries of the earth 
(particularly the half million dollars are noteworthy), total value - RM 

c. Foreign currency in coined gold, total RM 843,802.75 

d. Precious metals (about 1,800 kg. gold and about 10,000 kg. silver in 
ingots), total value -.RM 5,353,943.00 e. Other valuables such as jewels, 
watches, glasses, etc., in particular, the number of watches, about 16,000 
watches in working condition and about 51,000 watches in need of repair, 
is noteworthy; they have been placed at the disposal of the troops - RM 

f. About 1,000 boxcars of textiles, total value - RM 13,294,400.00 

Total -RM 100,047,983.91 

About 1,000 boxcars of textiles are still in stock, and about 50 percent of 
above-mentioned other valuables, which still must be counted and 
appraised. It should be stressed that the valuations given above have been 
established on the basis of official exchange rates and prices; commercial 
values are, however, much higher, for instance when selling precious 
stones or metals abroad, as the flight into fixed values is greater there than 
in our country. Moreover, sales abroad bring us foreign currency. 

If these prices have been used here for evaluation purposes, then this was 
done in order to be able to give a survey of the delivered valuables, in 
general, this valuation is not so decisive. 

The value of the receipts lies mainly in the fact that such large quantities 
of raw material, which are so urgently required, could be had and that on 

the basis of the seized valuables foreign currency can be secured, thus 
permitting Reich offices to buy more raw material. 


SS Gruppenfiihrer and Major General of the Police 

1 detailed list attached. [Document NO-061. Prosecution Exhibit 475, pp. 

All economic aspects of Aktion Reinhard(t) fell under the auspices of the Chief of the 
WVHA, SS Obergruppenfiihrer Oswald Pohl. According to the USMT II, "[o]n 4 July 
1944, Pohl, in a communication to the Main Office chiefs, announced the names of 
officers responsible for the property seized in several areas, and stated: As a matter of 
principle, it has to be kept in mind that the entire Jewish property is to be incorporated 
into the Reich property.'"— In his affidavit of 2 April 1947, Pohl explained that he was 
working under the direction of Himmler and directly over Globocnik to manage the 
economic aspects of Aktion Reinhard(t)~. He went on to declare that he was completely 
aware of where the valuables were coming from and of what activities they were a result. 

It was never doubted that this loot was taken from Jews exterminated in 
the concentration camps. * * * As I learned in 1943, gold teeth and crowns 
of inmates of concentration camps were broken out of their mouths after 
liquidation. This gold was melted down and delivered to the Reich Bank. * 
* * When I received all the vouchers, setting out the economic assets 
received, I realized the extent of the operation. I realized that the greatest 
part of the textile goods listed in these reports had been taken from people 
who had been violently put to death and that the purpose of the operation 
had been the extermination of the Jews."— 

In addition, "[i]n his interrogation of 13 June 1946 (NO-728, Pros. E. 693), Pohl was 
confronted by Kaltenbrunner's testimony before the International Military Tribunal that, 
'there were only a handful of people in the WVHA who had any control or knew anything 
about concentration camps,' to which Pohl commented: 'Well, that is complete nonsense. 
I described to you how these were handled in the WVHA. As for instance, in the case of 
the use of textiles and turning in of valuables, and also from Gluecks and Loerner right 
on down to the last little clerk, must have known what went on in the concentration 
camps, and it is complete nonsense for him to speak of just a handful of men.'" — 

Particularly illuminating is a report Pohl made to Himmler on 6 February 1943 
containing a detailed list of items seized. Among them were 221 train cars' worth of 
appropriated clothing sent to the Office for Germanisation, useless to the dead but 
otherwise essential to any who would have actually been transported to the east, i.e. none. 

[...]2. Office for Germanization [VoMi] 

Men's clothing: 

overcoats - 99,000 
jackets - 57,000 
vests - 27,000 
pants - 62,000 
drawers - 38,000 
shirts - 132,000 
pullovers - 9,000 
scarves - 2,000 
pajamas - 6,000 
collars - 10,000 
gloves - 2,000 pairs 
socks - 10,000 pairs 
shoes - 31,000 pairs 

Women's clothing: 

coats - 155,000 pieces 
dresses - 119,000 pieces 
blouses - 30,000 pieces 
pullovers - 60,000 pieces 
drawers - 49,000 pieces 
panties - 60,000 pieces 
jackets - 26,000 pieces 
shirts - 30,000 pieces 
chemises - 125,000 pieces 
pajamas - 27,000 pieces 
aprons - 36,000 pieces 
brassieres - 25,000 pieces 
underwear - 22,000 pieces 
kerchiefs - 85,000 pieces 
shoes - 111,000 pieces 

Children's clothing: 

overcoats - 15,000 
boys' jackets - 11,000 
boys' pants - 3,000 
shirts - 3,000 
scarves - 4,000 
pullovers - 1,000 
drawers - 1,000 
girls' dresses - 9,000 
girls' chemises - 5,000 
aprons - 2,000 
drawers - 5,000 
stockings - 10,000 pairs 

• shoes - 22,000 pairs[...]- 

Pohl apologised for the unexpectedly low numbers(!) and excused himself in the 
following way: "In this connection special consideration must be given to the fact that the 
delivery of rags is very high. As a result, the amount of usable old garments, especially 
men's clothing, is naturally diminished. It has therefore not been possible to satisfy the 
demand for men's clothing to its full."— Aside from demonstrating the sheer enormity of 
the Aktion, Pohl's reports also shed light on just how lucrative the extermination camp 
system was for the Nazi state. Another economic bulletin from Globocnik to Himmler 
from December 1943, seemingly anterior to the one above, lists Aktion Reinhard(t) 
revenues of approximately 178,000,000 Reichsmarks, where "minimum values are 


assumed, so that the total value probably reaches twice as much..." .— One year, the 
overwhelming wealth of watches and fountain pens seized from dead inmates, along with 
the spirit of Christmas, prompted Pohl to request that several hundred of each should be 


distributed to each SS division as well as thousands to the submarine service.— Himmler 
approved of the plan and suggested that another 15,000 women's watches be given to 


volksdeutsche entering the Greater Reich from Russia at the time.— Over and above 
simply (and tragically) financing their own deaths, then, Jews were inadvertently 
swelling the coffers of the Third Reich. The executions were more than paying for 
themselves, which does much to explain why they continued despite the resources they 
claimed which might have otherwise gone toward the prosecution of the war in the east. 

By this time, it was well-known in Allied government circles that the Germans were 
mass-murdering Jews in the camps, prompting initiatives to conceal and eradicate all 
traces of the Final Solution in Poland.— A ktion 1005 was the result, a Sonderkommando 
effort to exhume and cremate the contents of the mass graves in the east headed by SS- 
Standartenfuhrer Paul Blobel. Another motivating concern was the health hazard posed 
by such extensive extermination operations, especially that of the "insufficiently buried" 
Jews at Treblinka whose stench must have been intolerable. Consequently, following a 
visit by Heinrich Himmler to Treblinka in February or March of 1943, the decision was 
made to cremate the bodies that had been buried.— "At Treblinka there were no 
crematoria with furnaces, but there was a primitive arrangement of grates made from rails 
placed on supports of reinforced concrete, which could hold 2,500 corpses. Mechanical 


excavators were used for digging the pits and later for the exhumation of the corpses."— 

In December 1959, at the time of his arrest, a photo album entitled Schone Zeiten was 
discovered by west-German investigators in the flat of Kurt Franz, assistant commandant 
of Treblinka. The album shows numerous photos of Treblinka, such as of a brick tower, 
of the bakery, of the menagerie and zoological garden and of the commandant of 
Treblinka, Franz Stangl.— Comparison with an aerial photo and the maps drawn by 
survivors of Treblinka and Stangl and with eyewitness descriptions indicates that the 


pictures to follow are showing the extermination site.— The following is a photograph of 
one of the Menck & Hambrock type "Mb" excavators used during this operation, the 
buildings and trees in the background corresponding best to a picture taken from the 
'concealed burial pit' towards the old gas chambers in a north-westerly direction with 


either the water pump shelter or the guard house slightly obscuring the view.— Note also 
the two men in the bottom, left-hand corner carrying a stretcher between them. 


An open burial pit 

Once the industrial machinery was no longer needed for exhuming bodies and demolition 
of the camp, it was sent away, having no other purpose to fulfil. "In the waybills for the 
wagons sent from Treblinka at the time of the final liquidation' of the camp three 
excavators are mentioned. One of them was dispatched from Treblinka on June 29, 1943, 


to the firm of Adam Lamczak, Berlin-Neukolln, Willy Waltherstrasse 30-3 Tr." The 
gravel quarry at T-I, it should be noted, continued operating well into 1944. 

United States Reconnaissance air photographs reveal that by 15 May 1944 (and long 
before then), physical traces of the camp were all but eradicated. Odilo Globocnik 
wrote to Himmler on November 4, 1943: "On October 10, 1943: I concluded Operation 
Reinhard which I had conducted in the General Government and have liquidated all 


camps. "— Upon their arrival in 1945, the Soviets found a lunar wasteland of recent 
excavations by scavengers complementing other scars in the landscape left by the 
obliteration of the camp's building foundations. Most tellingly, they found among the 
upturned soil, alongside clothing and personal articles, innumerable human remains . 

In November of 1945, Poland sent its Central Commission for the Investigation of 
German Crimes to investigate the remains of the camp. Commission member Rachel 
Auerbach reported that: 

in the north-eastern part [of the Totenlager, presumably], over a surface 
covering about 2 ha. (5 acres), there are large quantities of ashes mixed 
with sand, among which are numerous human bones, often with the 
remains of decomposing tissues. 

As a result of an examination made by an expert it was found that ashes 
were the remains of burnt human bones. The examination of numerous 
human skulls found in the camp has shown that they bear no traces of 
external injuries. Within a radius of several hundred yards from the camp 
site an unpleasant smell of burnt ash and decay is noticeable, growing 
stronger as one approaches.— 

In 1959, Third Reich historian Martin Gilbert visited the camp and came away with this 
recollection: "From Treblinka village we proceeded for another mile or two, along the 
line of an abandoned railway through a forest of tall trees. Finally we reached an 
enormous clearing, bounded on all sides by dense woodland. Darkness was falling, and 
with it, the chill of night and a cold dew. I stepped down from the cart on to the sandy 
soil: a soil that was gray rather than brown. Driven by I know not what impulse, I ran my 
hand through that soil, again and again. The earth beneath my feet was coarse and sharp: 


filled with the fragments of human bone." All present in the vicinity, even fifteen years 

after the fact, discovered literal heaps of sinister evidence pointing to what had occurred 

If there is a dearth of primary documents surrounding an operation of such magnitude, it 
is because of assiduous efforts by Odilo Globocnik and others to cover their tracks: 
"[w]ith regard to the complete final accounts of 'Operation Reinhard' I must add that all 
vouchers should be destroyed as soon as possible, as has been done in the case of all 
other documents pertaining to this operation."— Anything that he or Himmler might have 
missed was combed over by subsequent Nazi officials: "All files, particularly the secret 
ones, are to be destroyed completely. The secret files about ... the installations and 
deterring work in the concentration camps must be destroyed at all costs. Also, the 
extermination of some families, etc. These files must under no circumstances fall into the 


hands of the enemy, since after all they were secret orders by the Fiihrer."— That the few 
we have left survived at all can only be attributed to bureaucratic confusion in the face of 
imminent collapse before the inexorable march of the Red Army. Likewise, our paucity 
of eyewitness testimonial can be attributed to the fact that the vast majority of those who 
witnessed the exterminations were also killed by them. If the hundreds of thousands of 
Jews supposedly resettled to the east really had been sent to Russia, we would today have 
no end of confessions to that effect. As it stands, the fragmentary evidence we hold 
before us, though incomplete, paints an undeniable picture of a ruthless industrial 
slaughterhouse performing its task with heartless efficiency in broad strokes. Confronted 
with this bleakness, I am reminded of my Shelly: 

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare 
The lone and level sands stretch far away. 

An unfair testament to the countless who lost their lives, but perhaps the dead find solace 
in the downfall of their own Ozymandias. 


1. Bogdan Musial, The Origins of 'Operation Reinhard': The Decision-Making 
Process for the Mass Murder of Jews in the Generalgouvernement, trans. William 
Templer. Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. XXVHI (Jerusalem: 2000), p. 113-53 (6). 
See note 18. Available online at pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%203222.pdf 

2. Rudolf H6B on Globocnik, January 1947, quoted in Ibid, p. 6. 

3. Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka: the Operation Reinhard Death 
Camps, (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987), p. 19. 

4. TAL/EVIT: Statement of Viktor Brack, 15 September 1946 

5. TAL/ZStL, Belzec Case: Statement of Josef Oberhauser 

6. Henry Friedlander, "Euthanasia," in The Holocaust Encyclopedia, ed. Walter 
Laqueur (London: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 171 ff. "Operation T4 

estalished killing centers at Brandenberg, Grafeneck, Hartheim, and 
Sonnenstein.[...] All six killing centers were equipped with a gas chamber and a 
crematorium, as well as reception rooms and housing for the staff. But there were 
no facilities for disabled patients, because they were killed soon after arrival. 
First, the physician and his staff examined the victims to ensure that the 
paperwork had been correctly completed. Then the victims were photographed for 
a permanent record and were led to the gas chamber. Once they were locked in 
the chamber, the physician opened the valve of the carbon monoxide container 
located next to the chamber. The gas entered the chamber through a pipe while 
the physician observed the victims through a window. After one or two hours the 
chamber was ventilated, the physician pronounced the victims dead, and the 
stokers (Brenner) removed the bodies." See also the testimony of SS Captain 
Josef Kramer quoted in William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A 
History of Nazi Germany (Greenwich: Fawcett Crest, 1960), p. 1277. 

7. Rudolf H66 Death Dealer: Memoirs of the Camp Kommandant at Auschwitz 
(New York: Prometheus Books, 1992), p. 206. 

8. Ibid, page 164 

9. Letter from Goring to Heydrich concerning solution of Jewish question, 31 July 

1941. Nuremberg Document NO-2856. Available online at: 

10. YVA: Eichmann Trial: Transcript. Interrogation notes by Captain Avner Less 
(Israeli Police), 30 May 1960, tape No. 5, p. 172 

11. Ibid 

12. See "Chronology" in Laqueur, p. xxx of the Introduction. The gassings that 
occurred in Chelmno were performed by gas vans which collected the Jews, drove 
them to the forest during which time they were killed on the journey by the 
exhaust fumes from the vehicles. A secret directive from the RSHA dated 8 June 

1942, recommended 9-10 Jews per square metre in the gassing vans at Chelmno 
in the Warthegau. Available online at: 

13. Josef Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries, ed. and trans. Louis P. Lochner (New 
York: Popular Library, 1948), p. 175-76. Available online at: 

14. "The Wannsee Protocol and a 1944 Report on Auschwitz by the Office of 
Strategic Services," reproduced in John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust: Selected 
Documents in Eighteen Volumes. Vol. 11 (New York: Garland, 1982), p. 18-32. 
Available online at: 

15. Nuremberg Document PS -5 10 

16. Top Secret document dated 16, May 1942, addressed to SS Obersturmbannfiihrer 
Rauff, 8 Prince Albrecht-Strasse, Berlin, from Dr. Becker, SS Untersturmfiihrer. 
Nuremberg Document PS-501. Available online at: 1 .HTM 

17. Hans Frank, from a speech on the extermination of the Jews, 16 December 1941. 
Nuremberg Document PS-2233 

18. Affidavit of Dieter Wisliceny, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume VIII, p. 
606-619. Available online at: 

19. Musial, p. 23 

20. Alexander Donat, ed. The Death Camp Treblinka: A Documentary (New York: 
Holocaust Library, 1979), p. 146 

21. Nuremberg Document NO-205. Available online at: de.jpg 

22. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews: Revised and Definitive 
Edition, Vol III (London and New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985), p. 872-3. See 
also Nuremberg Document NO-365 

23. SS-Untersturmfuhrer Josef Oberhauser on the early days at Belzec, quoted in E. 
Klee, W. Dressen and V. Riess, The Good Old Days (New York: Konecky & 
Konecky, 1988), p. 229 

24. Steve Hochstadt, ed. Sources of the Holocaust (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 
2004), p. 141. 

25. Reproduced in Donat, p. 255 

26. National Archives, GX120 frame 125, May 15, 1944. Available online at: 
http://www.holocaust-history.Org/Treblinka/geographyinternet/ g 

27. AZ-LG Dusseldorf, XI-148/69 S., 1970 

28. Ibid. Maps available online at . 
This particular map was prepared by the court. 

29. Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland (New York: 
Howard Fertig: 1982), p. 99. Available online at: 

30. Arad, p. 110. "In Treblinka, a second prisoners' group worked outside the camp. It 
was called the camouflage team and numbers approximately twenty-five. Its task 
was to camouflage with branches the camp's outer and inner fences, especially the 
fences around the extermination area and the "tube". This was intended to prevent 
outside observation of camp activities, as well as observation from within the 
camp of what transpired on the way to the gas chambers and in the extermination 
area. The team workers would cut branches in the forests near the camp and 
weave them into the barbed-wire fences. Since it was constantly necessary to 
replace dried-out branches with fresh ones, the camouflage work was continuous. 
These groups of prisoners left the camp confines under a strong guard of Germans 
and Ukrainians." 

31. Willi Mentz quoted in Klee, p. 245 

32. Decision of the Dusseldorf County Court (AZ-LG Dusseldorf: 11-931638, p. 49 
ff.), 1968. "Schon bald nach der Betriebsaufnahme stellte sich heraus, dass die 
Kapazitat des alten Gashauses nicht ausreichte, um die taglich anfallenden 
Judentransporte reibunslos zu liquidieren. Man begann daher Ende 
August/Anfang September 1942 mit dem Bau eines neuen grossen Gashauses, das 
mehr und grossere Gaskammern enthielt und nach etwa einmonatiger Bauzeit in 
Betrieb genommen werden konnte." See "Excerpts From Judgments 
(Urteilsbegriindung)" in Donat, p. 296 ff. 

33. Einsatz Reinhard secrecy pledge, 18.7.42, reprinted in: Tatiana Berenstein, Artur 
Eisenbach, Bernard Mark and Adam Rutkowski, eds, Faschismus-Getto- 

Massenmord: Dokumentation iiber Ausrottung und Widerstand der Juden in 
Polen wdhrend des zweiten Weltkrieges, (East Berlin: 1996), p. 500. "...bei der 
Durchfiihrung von Arbeiten bei der Judenumsiedlung im Rahmen des "Einsatzes 
Reinhard" beim SS- und Polizeifiihrer im Distrikt Lublin.... ein ausdriickliches 
Photografier-Verbot in den Lagern des "Einsatzes Reinhard." Also available 
online at: holocaust/documents/part2/doc 123 .html 

34. Order by Himmler On July 19, 1942, for the Completion of the Einal Solution' in 
the Government-General. Nuremberg Document NO-5574. Available online at: holocaust/documents/part2/doc 124.html 

35. Order to Warsaw Jewish Council to organize deportation 'to the East', 22 July 
1942", translated from reprinted version in Faschismus - Getto - Massenmord, p. 
305-7; original in archive of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Ring II, 
Nr. 192. Reproduced in Hochstadt, p. 192-4. Abridged copy available online at: holocaust/documents/part2/doc 128.html 

36. Ganzenmuller to Wolff, 28 July 1942. Nuremberg Document NO-2207. "Geheim 

Sehr geehrter Pg. Wolff! 

Unter Bezugnahme auf unser Ferngesprach vom 16.7.1942 teile ich Hinen 
folgende Meldung meiner Generaldirektion der Ostbahnen (Gedob) in Krakau zu 
Direr gefalligen Unterrichtung mit: 

"Seit dem 22.7. fahrt taglich ein Zug mit je 5 000 Juden von Warschau iiber 
Malkinia nach Treblinka, ausserdem zweimal wochentlich ein Zug mit 5 000 
Juden von Przemysl nach Belzec. Gedob steht in standiger Fuhlung mit dem 
Sicherheitsdienst in Krakau. Dieser ist damit einverstanden, dass die Transporte 
von Warschau iiber Lublin nach Sobibor (bei Lublin) so lange ruhen, wie die 
Umbauarbeiten auf dieser Strecke diese Transporte unmoglich machen (ungefahr 
Oktober 1942)" 

Die Ziige wurden mit dem Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei im 
Generalgouvernement vereinbart. SS- und Polizeifiihrer des Distrikts Lublin, SS- 
Brigadefiihrer Globocnik, ist verstandigt. 

Heil Hitler! 

Hir ergebener 

gez. Ganzenmuller" 

In reply, Wolff wrote Ganzenmuller on 13 August 1942: "I should like to thank 
you personally and on behalf of the Reichsfuhrer very much indeed for your 
memorandum of 28 July 1942. 1 was particularly gratified to learn from your 
communication that for the past two weeks a train containing 5,000 members of 
the chosen people is travelling to Treblinka every day and [as a result] we are thus 
now in the position to carry out this population transfer at an accelerated pace." 
Quoted in Klee, p. 233. Available online at: g; g 

37. Jiirgen Stroop, The Stroop Report: The Jewish Quarter of the Warsaw Ghetto is 
no More!, ed. and trans. Sybil Milton (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979), sec. II, 
p. 75. Available online at: 
report/htm/strp075 .htm 

38. Ibid, sec. II, p. 3. 

39. August/September report of the Warsaw district governor to Biihler, in YVA, O- 

40. Arad, p. 381-2, 392-7 (Appendix A). Available online at: http://www.holocaust- with accompanying charts: http://www .holocaust- 
info .dk/treblinka/treblinka deportations.htm 

These charts lack statistics for the Opatow district (website error), which amount 
to another 45,100. See also German Crimes in Poland, 1946, p. 103-04. "The 
average number of wagons in a transport was 50 though sometimes, as the railway 
records showed, it was as many as 58. The total number of wagon-loads of 
victims from August 1, 1942, to May 15, 1943, may be taken, with some 
certainty, to have been 7,550. 

In the later period, from the railway records; the list of the wagons for August 17, 
1943; a telegram of August 18, 1943; and a document entitled Fahrplanordnung 
Nr. 290 sent from Treblinka station by the Reichsbahndirektion Konigsberg, the 
number of train-loads could be established quite accurately. In the above- 
mentioned Fahrplanordnung we read among other things: Zur Abbeforderung von 
Aussledlern verkehren folgende Sonderziige von Bialystok nach Malkinia. Ziel 
Treblinka, from which it may be concluded that after the revolt the following 
train-loads, were brought in: on Aug. 27, 1943, 41 wagons; on Aug. 19, 35 
wagons; on Aug. 21, two transports of 38 wagons each; on Aug. 22, two 
transports of 39 wagons each; and on Aug. 23, one transport of 38 wagons; i.e. a 
total of 266 wagons. 

As an average number of persons per wagon we may take 100 (the majority of 
witnesses deposed that it was more than 150). According to this calculation the 
number of victims murdered at Treblinka amounts to at least 731,600. Taking into 
consideration the great caution with which the investigators assessed the number 
of train-loads and the average number of persons per wagon, this must be 
accepted as probable, that in actual fact the number of victims was even larger. (It 
should be pointed out that from pertinent documents such as telegrams, time- 
tables and way-bills it appears absolutely certain that more than two thousand 
wagon-loads of Jews were brought to Treblinka; yet these documents constituted 
but a small part of all the railway documentary evidence, the greater part of which 
is lost.)" 

The Fahrplanordnung Nr. 290 referred to in the Central Commission's report is 
also referenced on page 372 of Arad, op. cit. "6. YVA, TR-10/1107, Band 3, 

Ganzenmiiller's trial, the transport order no. 290 of August 17, 1943, issued by the 
Directorate of the German Railways in Konigsberg; Zabecki, p. 96." 

41. Report of OFK 365, 19 March 1942, in National Archives, T-501/215/97. 
"Innerhalb der jiidischen Bevolkerung Lembergs hat eine merkliche 
Beunruhigung Platz gegriffen mit Riicksicht auf eine begonnene 
Aussiedlungsaktion, durch die etwa 30,000 altere und sonstige, nicht im 
Arbeitsprozess stehende Juden Lembergs erfasst und, wie angegeben, in die 
Gegend von Lublin verbracht werden sollen. Inwieweit diese Evakuierung einer 
Dezimierung gleichzusetzten sein wird, bleibt abzuwarten." 

42. Report of OFK 365, 17 October 1942, in National Archives, T-50 1/2 16/1 129. 
"Die Umsiedlungsaktionen gehen unvermindert weiter. Das Judentum ist iiber 
sein Schicksal unterrichtet. Bezeichnend ist der Ausspruch eines Mitgliedes des 
Lemberger Judenrates: Wir tragen alle unseren Totenschein in der Tasche— es ist 
nur der Sterbetag noch nicht ausgefiillt." 

43. Gerald Reitlinger,77^ Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of 
Europe 1939-1945 (London: Vallentine, Mitchell & Co. Ltd., 1961), p. 283. 

44. Arad, p. 145 

45. Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, "A New Document on the Deportation and Murder 
of Jews during 'Einsatz Reinhardt' 1942," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 15:3 
(2001), p. 468-486. "13/15. OLQ de OMQ 1005 83 234 250 

Geheime Reichssache! An den Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspol., zu Handen SS 
Obersturmbannfiihrer HEJJVI, KRAKAU. Betr. 14-tagige Meldung Einsatz 
REINHART. Bezug: dort. Fs. Zugang bis 31.12.42, L 12761,B 0, S 515, T 10335 
zusammen 23611. Stand ... 31.12.42, L 24733, B 434508, S 101370, T 71355, 
zusammen 1274166. 

SS und Pol.fiihrer LUBLIN, HOEFLE, Sturmbannfuhrer." 

46. Georges Wellers, Les chambres a gaz ont existe: Des documents, des 
temoignages, des chiffres (Saint-Armand: Gallimard, 1981), p. 174-5. 

47. Nuremberg Document NO-5194. Transcription and facsimiles available online at: ; http://www.ns- . English translation by Roberto 
Muehlenkamp at: 

48. Nuremberg Document NO-5197. "Ich halte diesen Bericht als allenfallsiges 
Material fur spatere Zeiten, und zwar zu Tarnungszwecken fur recht gut. Im 
Augenblick darf er weder veroffentlicht noch weitergegeben werden [...]. In den 
kurzen Monatsmeldungen der Sicherheitspolizei will ich lediglich mitgeteilt 
bekommen, was monatlich abgefahren worden ist und was zu diesem Zeitpunkt 
noch an Juden iibrigblieb." 

49. See Nuremberg Document NO-4634. See also Eichmann session 79, Wl-Yl 

50. Leon Poliakov and Joseph Wulf. Das Dritte Reich und die Juden. Ullstein 33036, 
p. 240ff. Available online at: http://www.ns- 

51. War Diary of the Oberquartiermeister, Mbfh Polen, 1 May-31 December 1941, in 
National Archives, T-501/219/461. "OK Ostrow meldet, dass die Juden in 
Treblinka nicht ausreichend beerdigt seien und infolgedessen ein unertraglicher 
Kadavergeruch die Luft verpestet." 

52. Report of Gendarmerie district leader Brest, 8 November 1942, in BA, R 94/7. 
"Am 15. und 16.10.42 wurde in Brest-Litowsk die Judenaktion durchgefiihrt. 
Anschliessend erfolgte auch die restlose Umsiedlung der Juden im Kreisgebiet 
Brest-Litovsk. Im ganzen sollen bis jetzt etwa 20,000 Juden umgesiedelt worden 
sein. ...Einsatz bei der Aktion gegen die Juden in der Stadt und im Kreisgebiet 
Brest-Litowsk vom 15.10.42 ab. Bis jetzt sind etwa 20,000 Juden erschossen 

53. Musial, p. 3 

54. Ibid, p. 4. 

55. Franz Suchomel, interviewed on hidden camera for the film Shoah. Transcript 
from Claude Lanzmann, Shoah (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), p. 62. 

56. "In Treblinka und Belzek hatte 
Globocnigg auf Befehl Himmlers und Krugers, Vergasungslager errichtet." 

57. Franz Stangl quoted in Arad, p. 184 

58. Willi Mentz quoted in Klee, p. 245-247 

59. Heinrich Matthes quoted in Arad, p. 121. Parts of notes 57-9 are available online 

60. Testimony of Rudolf H6B taken at Nuremberg, Germany, on 1 April, 1946, 1430 
to 1730 by Mr. Sender Jaari and Lt. Whitney Harris. Also present: Mr. George 
Sackheim, Interpreter: Piilani A. Ahuna, Court Reporter. Available online at: and following. 

61. German Crimes in Poland, p. 102 

62. Thirteenth regulation under Reich Citizenship Law, 1 July 1943. Nuremberg 
Document PS-1422. Available online at: 

63. Nuremberg Document NO-060 

64. Opinion and Judgement of the United States Military Tribunal II, in Trials of War 
Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law 
No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'), p. 980- 
992. Available online at: 
T0980.htm ff. 

65. Ibid. 

66. Nuremberg Document NO-2714, Pros. E. 555, Ibid 

67. Opinion and Judgment of the United States Military Tribunal II: General 
Findings, op. cit., p. 958-980 

68. Nuremberg Document NO- 125 7 
69. Ibid 

70. Nuremberg Document PS-2024 

71. Nuremberg Document NO-2003 

72. Nuremberg Document NO-2754 

73. Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (New York: 
Public Affairs, 2005), p. 815. "Despite Germany's efforts to suppress information 

about its mass-murder policies, evidence of them trickled steadily out to the West. 
A report came from the Polish government in exile in June 1942 that 750,000 
Polish Jews (one-quarter of the total pre-war Jewish population of the country) 
had been killed. When Roosevelt's old sometime ally from New York politics, 
Rabbi Stephen Wise, head of the American Jewish Congress, prevailed upon 
Justice Felix Frankfurter to visit and remonstrate with the President in September 
1942, Roosevelt blandly assured him that he thought most of the deportations 
were for forced labor rather than extermination. He must have known this to be 
untrue, and was either trying not to disconcert his old 'friend' or was inexplicably 
reluctant to take the issue on fully." See also Richard Breitman, "American 
Policy," p. 11-16; Michael Cohen, "British Policy," p. 92-7; Gaston Haas, "Red 
Cross, International Committee of the," p. 518-9; in The Holocaust Encylopedia, 
ed. Laqueur 

74. German Crimes in Poland, p. 106 

75. Ibid., p. 98 

76. Pages reproduced in Klee, p. 226-7 

77. Alex Bay, "Appendix A - Identifying the Kurt Franz Camera." The 
Reconstruction ofTreblinka. http://www.holocaust- 

78. g 

79. Reproduced in Donat, p. 263 

80. German Crimes in Poland, p. 98-9. 

81. National Archives, GX120 frame 125, May 15, 1944. Blown up version available 
online at: g 

82. Nuremberg Document PS -4042 

83. Photos of a Soviet investigation in 1946, Novosti Press. Collection available 
online at: 

84. German Crimes in Poland, p. 96-7 

85. Quoted in "Reconstruction ofTreblinka: Geography of the Locale" 

86. Odilo Globocnik, "Top Secret" memo, 5 January 1944. Nuremberg Document 

87. Secret order issued by Sprenger, the Gauleiter and Commissioner for Reich 
Defence, 15 March 1945. Nuremberg Document D-728. 


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Stephen Potyondi is an undergraduate student of history at the University of Alberta. 

Copyright © 2006 Stephen Potyondi. All rights reserved.